Think about the last time you met someone full of energy.
Not the obnoxious kind, but the one that lights up a room and attracts others to it. The kind that is focused, productive, and full of life. But sadly, the mere thought wears people out because they’re simply nowhere close.
Why? Because most people live in the Exhaustion Cycle.
This is where we move from:
- Busy – Can’t Stop Now – I’m hurried and my energy is dispersed
- Beatdown – Can’t Take This – I’m now stressed and my energy is decreased
- Burnout – Can’t Keep Going – I’m officially done and my energy is depleted
I use an analogy of a high performing car. High performers are always going 100 mph, putting in cheap gas, little to no maintenance, only wanting quick and cheap repairs if needed, and then red-lining the RPMs while running on fumes.
The car looks amazing on the outside, always washed and waxed. And it’s immaculate on the inside, always vacuumed and spotless.
Yet we treat it like a junker.
This high-performance car sadly has been running only in the Exhaustion Cycle and you can learn more about the Exhaustion Cycle in the last article.
But there has to be another way as a business traveler on the road. This can’t be the only means of operation. How do we get the high-performance vehicle doing what it is designed to do without blowing out the engine?
The answer is found in The Energy Cycle.
It’s another way. It’s the way. A better way to live life on the road. It produces more results. Better results. And you feel so much better in the end.
The Energy Cycle is what should replace The Exhaustion Cycle. It’s the Preparation H to the pain in your “if you have to ask…”
Seriously. The Exhaustion Cycle is a pain that needs to be resolved.
For the longest time, I was known as The Energizer Bunny. Always going. Until my body shut down so badly, I crashed and crashed hard.
I learned from personal experience, the best place to live on the road was a place called The Energy Cycle.
I had to implement The Energy Cycle to learn the Energizer Bunny actually uses rechargeable batteries!
HERE ARE THE THREE PHASES OF THE ENERGY CYCLE:
PHASE ONE: REST = STOP FOR NOW
REST has become a four-letter word. Our society does NOT promote rest. It’s downplayed even villainized.
But… REST is the recharge for our body and our mind. Don’t believe me? Go hard until you’re exhausted and crash. What is the only thing that brings you back from the dead?
That dreaded four-letter word: REST.
And when I rest, my My Energy is Recharged.
Recharge comes in two ways:
- The Quick Hit Charge – plugging in to get a quick bump in energy (and we’ll talk about this more later)
- The Trickle Charge – the low amp, long-duration full charge (patience sold separately)
Similar to an electronic device, sometimes we charge just to get out of the red zone until we can get the full charge we need.
Other times, and hopefully more times after learning how to implement the Energy Cycle, you’ll rarely be in the red zone and can get the quick hit charge to be more effective until you live in the trickle charge that is the secret sauce.
Rest is actually energy habit #3 in the six energy habits framework.
THERE ARE THREE PARTS TO REST:
We all do it but the degree of quantity and for that matter quality is all over the place especially for a high performer. Sleep is viewed as optional, a necessary evil, an easy place to steal time, and overall under-valued.
But when we value sleep and see it as one of the highest sources of energy… Only then will you get the trickle charge high benefit gain of sleep. Sleep is turning the car completely off.
Sleep is one of these “change of mind before change of behavior” areas.
Once you begin to see the value in getting more sleep, only then will you see the incredible results sleep is just waiting to offer to you. Sleep is the biggest performance enhancer available to a road warrior and those that maximize it are elite road warriors.
Pro Tip: concentrate on IMPROVING your sleep before INCREASING your sleep. Getting an hour or two of bad sleep is not the answer to the problem.
The 2nd part of Rest is…
I define a break as: Move the Body / Rest the Mind.
The biggest pushback I hear all the time with breaks is “I don’t have time to take a break the road!”
At first glance, that may seem to be the case on the road. And if people choose to take a break at all, they do the opposite – Rest the Body and Move the Mind –
They stay seated and move from one screen to another (computer to phone for social media or personal email). A true break is designed to Move the Body – stand/stretch/walk – MOVE!
And rest the mind means to stop concentrating and let it just roam free.
Breaks, in our high-performance car analogy, means running the car but on idle.
In the Elite Road Warrior book, I outline three different types of breaks:
- Micro Breaks (think seconds) – stand and stretch/stare out the window to rest your eyes/change positions
- Mini Breaks (think minutes) – walk to the bathroom or to refill your water / take a quick lap around the office (home office now or house) or go outside to catch your breath / a quick meditation
- Macro Breaks (think chunks) – 15-30 minutes where you actually unplug from everything to move the body and rest the mind – go for a real walk (without checking email or social media) / eat a snack.
Breaks are one of these rare little gifts that a small investment yields amazing results.
Breaks are not only possible on the road, they’re game-changers for our energy so we can perform at the highest level. They also allow us to feel like we’re not ALWAYS working while on the road.
And the 3rd part of Rest after Sleep and Breaks is…
3. MARGIN / DOWNTIME
Margin means “space to breathe” – it’s choosing not to run non-stop but allows space to just catch your breath. Ahhhhh….
Margin is the cure for the Busy Phase in The Exhaustion Cycle. Margin precedes Downtime.
Downtime means “time to be” – it’s the non-doing part of the program. Think: “Time to Be, Not to Be On.”
Downtime is relationships. Downtime is hobbies.
I must have “space to breathe” (margin) so I can have “time to be” (downtime). Of the 3 parts in REST, this is my weakest by far. I’m notoriously a great doer, lousy be-er. Some would say even a better wine-er (adult beverage humor since I love my vino).
Downtime (Time to Be, Not to Be On) is critical when I live in The Energy Cycle.
It’s taking a couple of hours on a work trip evening to catch a ballgame, see the local sights, try a local restaurant without my laptop lover. Time to be, not to be on.
Downtime means, in our high-performance car analogy, the car is now in park. Downtime is small on weeknights and large on weekends. It’s amazing when you take downtime how much energy comes from this “seemingly unproductive time”.
And sometimes I’m the most creative AFTER downtime as crazy as that sounds. I’m recharged in a different way which puts so much into me – the “but wait, there’s more” bonus of choosing to rest with having margin (space to breathe) and downtime (time to be).
PHASE TWO: REFUEL = PUT BACK IN
Energy takes from us and requires something to go back in. We’re great at taking energy out and most road warriors, especially on a business trip, are lousy at putting energy back in.
When I refuel, My Energy is Renewed.
I’m now ready to put the RIGHT things back in (keyword: right).
But sadly, we often put the WRONG things in if at all and wonder why the high-performance car is not performing or even kicking back.
We must put the RIGHT things back in for our energy to be renewed and see the needed results.
THERE ARE THREE PARTS TO REFUEL:
Ah yes, there is a direct correlation between food and energy. If you doubt this, answer these three questions:
1. How much energy do you have when you skip meals? Breakfast or lunch for example?
2. How are you affected when you eat a heavy or lousy lunch?
3. How do you feel when you eat a healthy, energy-producing lunch or even the right snack?
We MUST see nutrition as a huge source of an energy edge. Our focus on nutrition is four letters: MTHC = Make the Healthiest Choice. Not the quickest choice, or the tastiest choice or even the largest choice.
It’s learning to ask: What’s the healthiest choice? Why? To give me energy on the road to perform at the highest level.
Three questions in particular:
- How do I continually hydrate putting the right liquids in? (Mostly water and think early and often)
- How do I eat cleaner (think fewer ingredients and less processed) and greener (more dark vegetables and more dark greens)?
- How do I carry a controlled substance healthy snack so I’m not caught off guard on the road?
Nutrition (aka Fuel) is actually energy habit #2 in the six energy habits framework.
The 2nd part in Refuel is…
I’m amazed and a little horrified by how little people MOVE these days. We’re SO less active than we used to be and need to be in our daily lives. Moving produces energy.
The focus on fitness is in the Increase Movement Formula. (↑ M4X Formula)
- Stand More – think up on your feet not down on your butt) or stretching.
- Walk More – think forward not just still.
- Run More – think cardio and getting your heart rate up.
- Lift More – think strength training using bodyweight, dumbbells, and resistance bands.
Adding and improving as many of the above four into your everyday activities will give you immediate energy and far more energy than you’d ever imagine.
Fitness (aka MOVE) is actually energy habit #1 in the six energy habits framework.
After Nutrition and Fitness, the 3rd part in refuel is…
Nutrition and Fitness recharge the body. Development recharges the mind.
Time is always the enemy with things that are important and things that are good for you. And development both personally and professionally is usually at the top of the list. I found most people’s philosophy on personal development is more HIT and MISS.
Two words to describe how I define Development = INTENTIONAL LEARNING.
And for something to be intentional and maximized you develop a plan which I call PDP – Personal Development Plan.
Here are four C’s to better clarify a PDP:
- Consume – this is what I read and hear on a daily basis – think books, blog posts, magazines, podcasts, audiobooks, etc.
- Coaching – hiring someone ahead of me for a season to get me where I want and need to go – often expensive but always worth it to me
- Courses – for me this is online courses that help me continually develop
- Conferences – opportunity to learn and network with like-minded learners on the same journey
Refuel is both recharging the body through Nutrition and Fitness along with recharging the mind with Personal Development to help our energy be replenished.
Personal and Professional Development (aka Develop) is actually energy habit #5 in the six energy habits framework.
The 3rd and final phase of The Energy Cycle after we’ve Rested – Stop for Now and Refueled – Put Back In is….
PHASE THREE: RE-ENGAGE = GET BACK OUT
After you REST, stop for now. And REFUEL, put back in, it’s time to RE-ENGAGE, get back out.
And when I’m refueled, my My Energy is Replenished.
This means I’m ready to get back out and “do what I do” but this time with more energy and sustainable energy. This is the exact opposite of the last phase of The Exhaustion Cycle: burnout.
Re-engage is when we “redesign the rhythms of our lives” to fit our individual lifestyle through the six energy habits.
This is where Re-Engage comes into the picture and is vital to our success in The Energy Cycle.
THERE ARE THREE PARTS TO RE-ENGAGE
1. PLAN – this type of detail in Rest and Refuel doesn’t or shouldn’t happen on accident or just when you can “fit it in.” This requires a customized plan that works within the rhythms of your road life.
Whether you create one on your own or your company helps you or Elite Road Warrior plays a part, a plan is the key to your success in The Energy Cycle to avoid burnout and create consistent results on the road.
2. IMPLEMENT – this is the “DO” part of the program. It’s not enough to “just have it on your schedule”
This is the action side – GO time – “getter done”. You will be SO far ahead of most if you make it to this part of Plan and Implement but it doesn’t stop here. “but wait, there’s more…”
3. EVALUATE – this is when we look at the plan and how we implemented it and ask:
- How’s it going?
- What worked?
- What didn’t?
- What can I change/tweak to make it better? = ADJUST
One closing thought on Re-engage. It’s critical you know when you re-engage on the road and your energy is not fully there just yet. Is your sleep off? Nutrition? Not enough movement? Knowing what you can tweak to keep your high-performance car running at an optimal level is the difference in a split-second finish in a race.
It’s SO easy to live in or even fall back in The Exhaustion Cycle. But this is not the way to live and especially not the place to become your absolute best.
The Energy Cycle is where you can develop your energy edge so you can live and work at an optimal level.
Leverage The Energy Cycle to help you become and remain an Elite Road Warrior today.
You Got This! Boom – Bring on the energy!